Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Politics of Crying

USA Today published a story about crying and gender stereotypes. At the risk of sounding like a blubbering fool, it made me want to cry a bit.

In a recently published study at Penn State, researchers sought to explore differing perceptions of crying in men and women, presenting their 284 subjects with a series of hypothetical vignettes.

What they found is that reactions depended on the type of crying, and who was doing it. A moist eye was viewed much more positively than open crying, and males got the most positive responses.

"Women are not making it up when they say they're damned if they do, damned if they don't," said Stephanie Shields, the psychology professor who conducted the study. "If you don't express any emotion, you're seen as not human, like Mr. Spock on Star Trek," she said. "But too much crying, or the wrong kind, and you're labeled as overemotional, out of control, and possibly irrational."

I just loved that "damned if they do, damned if they don't" line. That's the exact phrase that I used in my Social Inequality class a couple years back when we were asked what "oppression" means. So, yeah, we're are not making it up when we say we're oppressed.

The article also mentions a story that went completely under my radar. Suzyn Waldman, who does commentating for the Yankees on the radio, was ripped a new asshole after she cried on the air after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs this season. As a huge baseball fan (of that other New York team at which I'm still a little angry), I can empathize with Waldman. Everyone knew that manager Joe Torre was going to get sacked or offered a truly insulting deal that nobody could accept while still keeping their dignity, as the case may be, and so the end to the Yankees postseason was also the end of the 12-year Torre era. Hell, I cried when the Mets fired Bobby Valentine in 2002, and I wasn't even sure if I could get through the next morning's class without shedding a few tears over it. And the tears shed by Torre and the Yankees for the past 12 years after all their postseason wins could keep Yankee Stadium green for a year. But it was Waldman who got ripped a new asshole (as someone once eloquently put it). Why? Not because sports is a silly reason to cry over. No, it's because Waldman's a woman.

The conclusion of the article talks about what I wanted to post about for days but couldn't find the video for it, as it was most likely lost in the ejection of 9/11 conspiracy theorists: Bill Maher's disgusting comments about the whole Ellen Degeneres/Iggy the dog fiasco.

At this moment when the entire nation is saying 'Hmm, can we have a woman president? Maybe they're too emotional,' I don't think this is helping. If I was a woman, I would be embarrassed right now. I would be embarrassed for all womankind.

Is the entire nation saying that? Because I thought Clinton was leading every candidate in the polls. Anywho, I HATE it when the actions of one individual are somehow indicative of everyone from whatever arbitrary group you want to make look bad (after all, he didn't say he'd be embarrassed for all blonde-kind or gay-kind for that matter). It's as if people attempt not to make a sexist comment by feeling bad for all women when one woman fucks up, especially when the fuck up is a woman being empathetic while the camera's rolling. The truth is, the unfavorable behavior of one woman wouldn't reflect poorly on all women if women weren't already negatively stereotyped. If Bill Maher went on a killing spree, there wouldn't be some dramatic paradigm shift where the majority would exclaim, "White dudes are apeshit, and this is proof! They want to murder us all!!!! They're killing machines!!!!" Of course that doesn't happen, because this logic only serves the purpose to further oppress the oppressed.

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